A painting by early twentieth-century Chicago artist Marie Blanke was significantly brightened after a good cleaning and a fresh coat of varnish. The original canvas, which was deformed and brittle from age, was flattened with a combination of heat, suction, humidity, and weight techniques, and then strengthened by being lined to a prepared canvas. The painting was put back into its original frame, the miters of which were stabilized.
When the conservators conducted their initial examination of the painting, they discovered that there was not only a remnant of a label that was nailed to the stretcher, but that the painting extended to the very edge of the canvas, indicating that the painting may have been previously cut down before it was secured to the current stretcher.
Each corner of the canvas was torn, and the canvas overall was brittle and degraded. The corners of the frame were coming apart as well. The gesso on the frame was flaking as well as some areas of paint on the canvas. Covering the painting was a synthetic resin that was matte and dull.
Flaking paint was locally consolidated with conservation adhesives
The painting reverse was cleaned of grime using a soft brush and vacuum
The canvas was removed from its support
The canvas was flattened with heat, suction, humidity, and weight
The original canvas was lined with a prepared canvas using the adhesive Beva 371
The canvas was restretched and the original varnish was removed
The painting was surface celaned and a new coat of varnish was applied
Marie Blanke was involved with many art clubs and guilds in Chicago; she even founded some of her own art clubs, mostly catering to women interested in art. She studied the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on scholarship, and exhibited there many times, among other galleries and organizations in the city.
Mostly known as a still life and landscape painter, Blanke also taught design, applied art, and freehand drawing at the newly established Lewis Institute (now the Illinois Institute of Chicago).
In addition to Chicago, Blanke studied in England, Germany, and Massachusetts. The painting, which depicts a quaint harbor community, may have been painted in one of these areas.